The sad story of Bumpy.
Bumpy aged 5 days
I know you shouldn't have favourites, but I hold my hands up - Bumpy was a favourite of mine. I think you do have favourites when it comes to chicks you've hatched yourself.
Bumpy hatched on 1 May 2013. She was supposed to be a Speckled Sussex and she came out of a cream coloured egg - and she turned out to be a Black Copper Marans. She was - as chicks are - a cute, fluffy bundle of black and yellow.
She was called Bumpy because when she was about a day old, I noticed she had quite a large growth on her neck. It was so big that it was nearly as big as she was. I took some advice from people who know what they're talking about and none of them could tell me what it was.
Some said I should have her 'put to sleep', some said leave it alone. In the end I decided to leave her alone. She was chirpy and happy and the bump seemed to worry me a lot less than it worried her.
As she grew up, Bumpy became inseparable friends with the other Black Copper Marans I hatched. They went everywhere together and when one was out of sight of the other, they would cheep loudly until the other came back into view again.
And then one day in July, when Bumpy was just eleven weeks old, she disappeared. Just disappeared off the face of the earth. There were no tell-tail feathers, no bones, nothing. She just wasn't there any more.
The chicks had gone into the Big Girls' Coop just that week. They'd all settled down remarkably well but there was some bullying as they sorted the pecking order out. The only thing I can think of is that Bumpy flew (she had beautiful flight feathers by then) over the six foot high fence into the jaws of a fox.
We certainly have foxes. Bumpy could certainly fly, although I'm not convinced she could fly that high - but you never know. It's not an ideal explanation though, because she was the most timid of the chicks so why she would choose to fly outside the coop, I have no idea.
So now her little Marans companion Bruna (or it might be Bruno - I'm still not sure whether she might be a he) stands at the gate to the coop and cheeps. It's the saddest sound I've ever heard in my life.
I know people say "Get a grip - it's only a chicken". And I know that given the problems some people are facing in their lives it's not the greatest heartache in the world.
But Bumpy was my favourite. I miss her.